The American Civil Liberties Union earlier this month announced an ambitious goal of releasing 50 percent of Alabama prisoners by the year 2025 through a report aimed at tackling mass incarceration. These reforms range from addressing state legislation, drug sentencing and racial disparities in sentencing.
Many of the reforms in the ACLU report target laws and policies that send more people to jail and impose long sentences. The report also says for-profit bail systems mean that people who haven’t been convicted for a crime are often locked up because they can’t afford bail. It estimates that more than 70 percent of inmates in Alabama county jails are awaiting trial.
Practices likes these disproportionally affect the poor and people of color, officials with the ACLU say. The ACLU’s report is included in a nationwide project to address mass incarceration. The goal is to have at least 12,500 fewer people in Alabama prisons. That would mean hundreds of millions of dollars freed up to spend on schools and other resources.